Surrogate Supervision for Medical Image Analysis: Effective Deep Learning From Limited Quantities of Labeled Data

We investigate the effectiveness of a simple solution to the common problem of deep learning in medical image analysis with limited quantities of labeled training data. The underlying idea is to assign artificial labels to abundantly available unlabeled medical images and, through a process known as surrogate supervision, pre-train a deep neural network model for the target medical image analysis task lacking sufficient labeled training data. In particular, we employ 3 surrogate supervision schemes, namely rotation, reconstruction, and colorization, in 4 different medical imaging applications representing classification and segmentation for both 2D and 3D medical images. 3 key findings emerge from our research: 1) pre-training with surrogate supervision is effective for small training sets; 2) deep models trained from initial weights pre-trained through surrogate supervision outperform the same models when trained from scratch, suggesting that pre-training with surrogate supervision should be considered prior to training any deep 3D models; 3) pre-training models in the medical domain with surrogate supervision is more effective than transfer learning from an unrelated domain (e.g., natural images), indicating the practical value of abundant unlabeled medical image data.

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